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E-tailers adopt pragmatic approach ahead of '618'

By FAN FEIFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-22 09:15

A salesperson promotes jewelry via livestreaming in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. GENG YUHE/FOR CHINA DAILY

Major Chinese e-commerce platforms are offering steep discounts and shopping subsidies as well as simplifying promotional methods by canceling presale campaigns during this year's extended June 18 (known as "618") online shopping carnival, with direct price cuts being a preferred strategy.

Industry experts said Chinese consumers have become more rational and prudent about potential purchases. So online retailers are taking a more pragmatic and simple approach this time, with a key focus on low-priced products and the use of livestreaming for product promotions, so as to attract price-conscious customers and bolster sales.

Data from Tmall, Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba Group's business-to-customer platform, show that the sales of 59 brands surpassed 100 million yuan ($13.8 million) within the first four hours of the midyear promotional event, which kicked off at 8 pm on Monday.

The turnover of Apple Inc's products on Tmall exceeded 1.5 billion yuan within the first hour, while sales of domestic smartphone brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi and Vivo surpassed 100 million yuan during the period, Tmall said.

Moreover, the transaction volume of 11 cosmetics and skin care brands as well as 23 household appliances brands, including Haier, Hisense and Dyson, crossed the 100 million yuan threshold in the first four hours.

US tech company Apple has launched a promotional campaign on its Tmall official flagship store in China, offering discounts of up to 2,300 yuan on the iPhone 15 models, to reinvigorate domestic demand for its flagship product.

For example, the iPhone 15 Pro Max started selling for 7,949 yuan on Apple's online store of Tmall, a reduction of more than 2,000 yuan compared with its 9,999-yuan price tag when the new series was released last September.

Meanwhile, Apple is offering a range of steep discounts and significant price cuts for iPhone 15 models on Chinese e-commerce giant JD's online marketplaces.

The 256-gigabyte iPhone 15 Pro now costs 6,999 yuan, a reduction of about 2,000 yuan on the platform.

Dong Puyu, a researcher at CIO Manage, a Beijing-based digital economy market consultancy, said major e-commerce players have canceled presales for this year's June 18 shopping festival, making the rules of online shopping simpler and further optimizing consumer shopping experiences and services.

"In the long run, simplified promotional events and direct price cuts are conducive to promoting the healthy development of the e-commerce industry and better protecting the rights and interests of consumers," Dong said.

The move may, however, lead to intensified competition among e-commerce platforms, and merchants need to adopt new sales strategies and adjust their inventory management models, he added.

Dong said e-commerce players are stepping up efforts to provide cost-effective commodities and invest more in livestreaming sessions and content, amid rising competition from short video platforms, given that Chinese shoppers are more rational and carefully reviewing their needs.

The June 18 promotional gala is expected to play a vital role in stimulating consumers' purchasing appetites, boosting the recovery of consumption and shoring up the economy, said Wang Yun, a researcher at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research, which is affiliated to the National Development and Reform Commission.

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